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Crackdown on daring city centre muggers and pickpockets paying off

By Faith Karanja and Wainaina Wambu | Published Sun, February 11th 2018 at 11:43, Updated February 11th 2018 at 11:49 GMT +3
The crackdown to curb crime in the CBD, the police say, is proving effective as many suspects are arrested [Courtesy]

The ongoing crackdown on gangs behind the surge in muggings in Nairobi is increasingly testing the ability of the police to deal with crime through the tools available to them, including closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras.

With over Sh14 billion spent in the last two years to wire the city with CCTV cameras and more billions spent on leasing cars for them, it had been assumed the era of muggings in Nairobi’s CBD had gone.

However, the recovery of 230 stolen mobile phones, 10 cameras, 15 laptops and 12 tablets during a police operation on Thursday shows muggings and snatching are very much alive. Fifteen suspects were arrested during the operation.

The suspects, still in custody, will be presented to court tomorrow (Monday). In an affidavit filed at Milimani Law courts, the investigating officer told the court that the 15 were arrested pursuant to numerous complaints of robbery with violence cases and muggings.

He said there is need to record statements from the complainants “whose compliance might be hindered if the respondents are not detained.”

In their defence through their advocate, the respondents claimed they deal in electronics -- and that they belong to various clients who had brought them for repair.

Milimani Principal Magistrate Martha Mutuku directed that the police complete investigation within the weekend and decide whether the persons will be charged. The case will be mentioned tomorrow.

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Central Police Station OCPD Robinson Thuku said officers acted on a tip off that some shopping stalls on Mfangano Street were handling stolen electronic valuables. “The operation was conducted by a team tasked with containing the crime surge in the CBD. After a tip off, we raided at least three shops handling stolen electronics,” he said.

Following public outcry on an appalling rise of daylight muggings in the CBD, police stepped up their patrols. The Nairobi County Government also formed an anti-mugging unit last month. The gangs target people leaving ATMs, forex bureaus and M-Pesa shops or pedestrians going about their businesses.

The crackdown to curb crime in the CBD, the police say, was proving effective.

“We have been working with officers from City Hall. In fighting crime, you don’t put aside those with swords and rungus,” Thuku said.

This week Governor Mike Sonko launched an initiative to get rid of street children whose huge numbers are creating a conducive environment for crime to thrive. 

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